This Korean Beauty Tool Is My Salad Secret Weapon
It makes slicing everything from cucumbers to rhubarb a breeze.
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I was introduced to this tiny mandoline (known in the beauty world as a "cucumber slicer") when I worked the cold appetizer station, known as the garde manger station in professional kitchens, at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. A sous chef at the restaurant was from Korea and he purchased one of these for each cook on the station. He explained that the little mandoline was actually not marketed as a kitchen tool, but rather a Korean beauty supply used to slice cucumbers to place on the skin — which explains the flip up mirror that conveniently doubles as a safety guard.
Kitchen tool or not, this tiny gadget comes with me to every kitchen I work in.
Contrary to what movies might have you believe, most professional kitchens do not have ample work space, so having this small mandoline was a dream. It fit easily in my knife kit along with my trusted essentials (knives, sauce spoons, plus a vegetable peeler, thermometer and cake tester). I could grab it quickly and slice whatever vegetable was needed for beautiful, seasonal salads or garnishes for cold appetizers. It was so great, in fact, that I found people from other stations “borrowing” it on a daily basis; the one time it went missing I totally freaked. I finally made sure to write my name on the side with my trusted Sharpie (ever restaurant line cook has one at all times), so as not to lose my prized tool to a sticky-fingered line cook!
You can certainly find room for this little piece of equipment in your own kitchen. It’s small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer! And, it’s actually pretty safe — just flip up mirror to keep your hands protected from the sharp blade. And unlike larger mandolines that require adjusting and some practice, this has a set blade and measures less than five inches. Not exactly intimidating.
Finally, the cost: For less than $10, you can make salads look “chef-y” with perfectly thin radishes, cucumbers or carrots. Shave rhubarb and celery for a beautiful garnish, thinly slice zucchini for a carpaccio-style salad. The options are endless!
Even as I changed stations in the kitchen, it still came in handy as I moved up the line. And when I left the restaurant, I held onto the slicer and added it to my home kitchen tools. It’s still relatively sharp, some years later, and I often put it to use when I don’t feel the need for my bigger mandoline.
Stevie Stewart is a freelance writer, professional product tester and recipe developer. She began her career in the art world, but eventually her passion for all things food lead her to pursue a culinary career full-time. An avid traveler, Stevie’s first stop on any trip is to the local supermarket for new snacks and treats.